Political drama results in $15 million for film production credits next year -- Gazette.Net







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This story was updated at 1:45 p.m. April 8, 2014.

Following a series of last-minute political twists reminiscent of a “House of Cards” episode, Maryland will provide $15 million in fiscal 2015 tax credits for film productions such as the Netflix political thriller.

A bill that would have allowed $3.5 million more in credits died late Monday at the close of the General Assembly’s regular session. A six-member conference committee debated until the final bell on the bill that would have provided a total of $18.5 million in credits.

Some House of Delegates members wanted to insert a provision that would rescind the credits if a production moved from Maryland, while senators objected to that clause. The session’s deadline came without a compromise.

A “House of Cards” executive threatened in a recent letter to state officials to not film the third season in Maryland if the production did not receive more in credits. Investors in the first season received $11.7 million in state tax credits and were projected to receive $15 million in tax credits for the second season, according to state figures.

Whether the $15 million for next fiscal year — funds that all productions filming in the state are eligible to share — will be enough to keep “House of Cards” filming in Maryland was not known Tuesday by state officials.

“We are hopeful ‘House of Cards’ will continue to film in Maryland, but that is a decision that [Media Rights Capital] has to make,” Karen Glenn Hood, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, which oversees the credit program, said Tuesday.

Megan Duzi, a spokeswoman for Media Rights Capital, the Beverly Hills, Calif., production company of “House of Cards,” said Tuesday that company officials have no comment “at this time.”

Producers delayed filming its third season until June to find out the results of the film tax credit debate. A construction coordinator working on “House of Cards” told a Maryland House committee several weeks ago that he understood the production is reviewing Pittsburgh, Chicago and Toronto, among other areas, to film.

The first season of “House of Cards” completed 139 days of filming, mostly in Baltimore, Annapolis and Harford County, in 2012, and employees made purchases of goods and services at more than 1,800 Maryland businesses for an economic impact of $138 million, according to a DBED report.

The economic impact of the second season is projected to be about $120.6 million, with a similar amount for the third season if it is filmed in Maryland.

Some $7.5 million in the fiscal 2015 tax credits will come from the general fund. Another $5 million is from “Sunny Day” funds and $2.5 million from a cultural arts special fund.

Dipping into the arts fund is “very disappointing,” said John Schratwieser, executive director of the advocacy group Maryland Citizens for the Arts.

“It’s not something we expected,” Schratwieser said. “This is a fund that has the potential to do a lot of good. It’s focused on helping local arts groups strengthen their organization through capacity building and fiscal training for better accounting practices.”